Aramco has historically stuck to producing Saudi Arabias vast, low-cost oil reserves, the worlds second largest. But Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih now confirms in an interview with the Financial Times that the company will look overseas for oil and natural gas prospects.
"We are no longer going to be inward-looking and focused only on monetizing the kingdoms resources," Falih told the FT. "Going forward the world is going to be Saudi Aramcos playground."
Aramco will prioritize building a global natural gas business as it pushes into overseas exploration and production, Falih tells the FT. Oil majors like Exxon and Shell are already shoring up their gas operations as the worlds appetite for the fossil fuel grows, particularly in Asia.
The company has considered making investments in liquefied natural gas projects in the Russian Arctic and the U.S., according to recent news reports. Falih says Aramco is also considering opportunities in Australia, which recently topped Qatar as the worlds top exporter of LNG, a form of natural gas chilled to liquid form for transport by sea.
Aramco has already invested in overseas refineries and petrochemicals plants. Its Motiva facility in Port Arthur, Texas, is the largest refinery in the U.S. At home, Aramco is in the process of purchasing a 70-percent stake in Saudi petrochemicals company Sabic from the kingdoms sovereign wealth fund.
The deal, expected to raise $70 billion for the Public Investment Fund, will partially underwrite Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmans efforts to diversify the Saudi economy. Aramco also plans to list shares of the company on an international stock market in 2021 to shore up the fund, following a long delayed initial public offering.
Despite Prince Mohammeds plans, Falih said he expects oil and gas to generate 40 percent to 50 percent of the kingdoms revenue in the future. Today, oil accounts for nearly 90 percent of Saudi revenue.
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